INSIDE SOURCES

Tabernacle Choir joined by international singers this Conference weekend

Mar 31, 2023, 6:40 PM | Updated: Apr 1, 2023, 3:25 pm

FILE - In this March 31, 2018, file photo, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform during the twice-ann...

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will be joined by some international singers during this weekend's 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is scheduled for this weekend at the Conference Center. And for the first time, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will have international singers participating with the choir. 

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, the president of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, joined Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson on Friday to discuss these worldwide participants with the choir. 

Matheson asked, “How did this idea come about?”

Leavitt says the church is a worldwide church with a worldwide mission. And the choir serves as an important symbol of the church.

“There is a desire to have the choir reflect more closely the membership of the church,” Leavitt said. “And therefore, we have invited people from all around the world who are qualified musicians to join with the choir at general conference.”

The process to selecting the international singers

Matheson asked, “Give us a sense of where of these participants are coming from, and what the process was to get them ready to sing with the choir this weekend?”

Leavitt said they picked eight areas of the church. From there, church leadership in those areas was asked to identify qualified members. The qualified members were chosen based on their membership in the church and their musical qualifications.

Leavitt says once the individuals had been chosen, they were interviewed to determine if they had the experience, understanding and sophistication to sing with the choir.

From there, Leavitt says the individuals went through an audition.

“Audition is very similar to what a standard member of the choir would go through,” Leavitt said.

He says Mac Wilberg, music director, and Ryan Murphy, associate director, ultimately made the decisions on which individuals would be invited. 

Leavitt points out that it is a pilot program.

“We’re learning as we go,” he said. “But it appears to be a success.”

The international singers come from Brazil, Ghana, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. They arrived in Salt Lake City around March 18 to begin preparing for general conference weekend.

History for the choir

Matheson asked, “Give us a sense of what it’s been like for them as they’ve actually joined some of these choir rehearsals in preparation?”

“It is electric to see it unfold,” Leavitt said. “The choir received these global participants warmly. They know how much they have worked to get here and to prepare. It’s a moment of history for the choir.”

Leavitt says the experience will benefit both the visiting musicians as well as the choir.

“We know that they will leave better musicians having had this experience,” he said. “And we know the choir will be better for having had their involvement.”

In closing, Matheson asked, “What are some of the things that we can look forward to down the road as it relates to this global choir and its impact?”

Leavitt mentions a second pilot program involving Music and the Spoken Word. He says the program will be expanded internationally and broadcast in Spanish and Portuguese later this year.

“(It) has been well-received by television and radio stations across the world,” he said.  

 

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Bonneville International Corporation, the company that owns KSL NewsRadio, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Tabernacle Choir joined by international singers this Conference weekend